Refugees on both Manus Island and Nauru remain in serious danger. The government continues to whip up fear about refugees in an effort to recover its electoral support—and is expanding to new targets such as African migrants and refugees.
After using metal bars, fists and knives, PNG immigration and
police forced refugees on Manus out of the old detention centre late last year. After over four years in detention, they refused to be transferred simply to another prison camp. Behrouz Boochani, a refugee on Manus, wrote that what they wanted was, “one thing, and one thing only, and that is freedom.”
There is no proper security in three new camps they have been moved to. Locals have held repeated protests and blockades against the new camps on their land. Medical and mental health care for the refugees has been drastically reduced.
And the attacks are frequent and brutal. A Human Rights Watch report in October documented these assaults. One man nearly lost his arm following a machete attack. An Iranian asylum seeker suffered a fractured skull after an attack with a metal rod as his phone and money were stolen.
A few more refugees have been accepted under the US deal. But the total is still only 230 resettled from Manus and Nauru in 14 months—and there are over 1500 more refugees and asylum seekers there. Iranian, Somali and Syrian refugees are now blocked from going to the US by Trump's travel ban. And Iranians are the largest single national group on Manus and Nauru.
In Australia there are still thousands of asylum seekers waiting to be processed under the unfair new “fast track” process which removes appeal rights. The new system is designed to reject a fair higher number of people. And those who receive refugee status can still only get a temporary visa, meaning they cannot bring family members to Australian and suffer ongoing insecurity.
It’s time to end the cruelty and scaremongering against refugees. It is urgent that the Australian government take responsibility for the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru and Bring Them Here immediately. And it needs to welcome all refugees and provide fair processing and a secure future.